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Unukupukupu - the process


"Hula is not about polishing antiquity. Hula is about engaging our remotest memories in the individual and collective decisions we make in the now. Once this reality is experienced, we then launch into the organic analysis of our own journeys of life and of living, but this time from the helm of the canoe!" – Taupōuri Tangarō

TRADITION: UNUKUPUKUPU means  "Shrine of Ferns [Rooted in Fresh Lava]",  and the name is anchored in the steep and very ancient explosive hula traditions of ʻAihaʻa Pele, or Ritual Dance of Volcanic Phenomena of Hawaiʻi.  An earth-centric hula tradition bequeathed to Dr. Taupōuri Tangarō by Hālau O Kekuhi, one of Hawaiʻi's noted schools of traditional dance, UNUKUPUKUPU continues to evoke through dynamic hula (dance), oli (chant), ʻaʻahu (regalia), ʻaha (rituals), kaʻao (myth) the life ways of one of the world's most isolated peoples living in kinship with one of the world's most sacred landscapes.

VISION: The Vision of UNUKUPUKUPU is to bring into a modern global context an awareness of the role and the spirit of hula as one of the world's sacred dance of environmental kinship.

MISSION: The Mission of UNUKUPUKUPU is to position Hawaiʻi Community College as a global cultural-academic resource for experiencing hula as a grounded, well informed foundation for the promotion of environmental kinship in and beyond Hawaiʻi, doing so within the context of modern lifestyles.  The mission is to promote a population of Hula practitioners that are informed through authentic experience the value of indigenous life-ways for today.  Moreover, as we are all "connected", UNUKUPUKUPU is about fueling these connections for the sheer purpose of insuring that the human spirit continues to pulse and function in the face of modernity.

hawaii papa o ke ao performance

HAWAIʻI PAPA O KE AO: Hawaiʻi Community College is one of seven college's and 3 universities of the University of Hawaiʻi System, the only public institution of higher education in the state. Collectively, the entire UH-System is undergoing a transformation that will position the UH-System as a Global Indigenous-Serving Institution, advocating the role of indigenous life-ways through academia. Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao (Hawaiʻi, Foundations of Enlightenment) is the name given this transformative initiative and UNUKUPUKUPU is indeed a model of how indigenous foundations not only lead to learner cultural-academic success, but positions the learner as an advocate for environmental kinship and global connections. 

HE WELINA PUMEHANA: A Warm Welcome, do come and experience the heartbeat of Hawaiʻi through our sacred expressions of hula, rekindling the very spark of knowing we are family!

Dr. Tangarō was a participant in the 2012 Campus and Community Festival program. This video was produced as part of the Hawai'i participation in the upcoming 2013 Folklife Festival program One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage. Stay tuned for more previews of this program.


tangaro and book cover

For more information please contact Dr. Taupōuri Tangarō Director

unukupukupu members
unukupukupu dancer
unukupukupu dancers

"Our traditional myths together with our scientific DNA postures one simple truth: We are all connected. To contribute to this truth in a way that is empowering, liberating, profound, and environmentally reciprocal is a great reason to come to work."

-Taupōuri Tangarō

students holding ipu

"Hula is the language of the heart and therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian People

-HRM David Kalākaua, Kinf of Hawaiʻi (1874-1891)

smithsonian festival performance
second semester students in washington
smithsonian folklife festival opening ceremony
smithsonian folklife festival drumming performance
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